Surprisingly, it’s not in the driest regions that I have experienced the worst water shortages. It’s in some of the wettest – Caribbean islands and equatorial rainforests. Water is a political issue as much as it is a geographical one.
2017 is the UN’s Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, and today, 27th September, is World Tourism Day. It’s inspired me to look back over the year so far, and reflect on some of my top sustainable tourism encounters and achievements, working with animals, companies and NGOs from across the globe.
Sotiris’ quarter century of experience in the Mediterranean gave him the knowledge to deal with the raging sea – and the wisdom to know when to not even try. Sails were unfurled, ropes coiled, booms swung and we became insignificant dots on a vast naval chart, disappearing between islands and islets, following the instantly erased paths of seafarers past.
A vast circle of yellow ochre, ringed in red, burns beneath the Andalucian sunshine. As the brass band begins to play, a black ball of fury rages across the yellow earth, a dark comet crossing the sun, a solar storm. Photograph by Chema Concellón
People call it the rat race, but it doesn’t feel like a race. No one’s competing to get ahead of each other, we’re just trying to stay afloat. It’s a hamster wheel, treading water, a treadmill – every year I put money back into my student loan, and every year the interest mounts. I put money into my “flat deposit” – yet at the end of the year I’m just as far from buying a home as I was at the beginning.
Five years ago, over Easter 2012, I realised a long-held dream and flew to Cuba. The paradoxes were mind boggling. I had spent time in developing countries, in rural areas without electricity or running water. I’d visited subsistence farmers and township dwellers and tribal people living in mud huts. I knew what poverty looked like – and it didn’t usually have a framed Masters certificate on the wall and half a dozen letters after its name.
“Where everyone knows your name” is now published by Bradt Travel Guides. The tale takes place in tiny Wimbí, an Afroecuadorian village along the farthest reaches of the Cayapa River, as it snakes its way through the Chocó rainforest. Separated from the Amazon by the Andes, the Chocó is remote, barely explored, and bloody hot.
Last week I found myself in London’s Victoria Station with half an hour to kill before my train arrived. I wandered into WHSmith to browse the books – and gravitated towards the travel literature section. Five shelves lured me in with their titles: To the Ends of the Earth, Long Way Down, Walking the Americas. But the …
You produced gifts, all the more romantic for their simplicity. A fiery sunset, a conch shell, almost intact. A fresh coconut, a mango and a bitter green lemon. I devoured the fruits, an internal embrace, you infused me inside and out. In some ways you were very traditional in your tastes. You offered up flowers: ginger, hibiscus, in all the colours of your Caribbean sunset.
This is why the Women’s March is so important. As I’ve now realised, even confident, empowered women can normalise the misogyny, disrespect, assault, and frankly disgusting behaviour that is towards us – and it seems that we may be moving backwards not forwards in that respect.